Residents of Imperial Valley, California will soon be able to sleep easier knowing that the electricity flowing through their home is being supplied by clean, geothermal energy.

Originally called the “Hudson Ranch I,” the facility was renamed the John L. Featherstone Plant in honor of a technology pioneer and innovator in the Salton Sea geothermal resource, and is the first geothermal plant to go online in the Salton Sea area in 20 years. Phase two of the project will commence next year and is scheduled to be done in 2015. Each plant is capable of producing 49.9 MW of clean energy, enough to power approximately 50,000 homes.

“The Salton Sea geothermal field is among the world’s largest and highest temperature resources because it lies directly inside an active plate tectonic boundary,” said Dennis V. McGinn, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, in a recent release [PDF]. “In addition to generating thermal power, Salton Sea geothermal brines are well-known for their exceptionally high concentrations of minerals. These minerals include lithium, manganese and zinc, which are important to battery and energy storage technology, and are truly a national strategic asset.”

With water temperatures of around 600 degrees F, and current geothermal plants only producing a combined 380 MW, experts say that the area could withstand further energy development. There is potential for the Salton Sea to help produce around two gigawatts of clean, reliable geothermal energy.

And although it’s exciting that the geothermal plants will help transition California away from fossil fuels in years to come, it’s delivering a pleasant short-term benefit as well: jobs.

EnergySource began construction of the $400 million plant in May 2010 and created more than 200 jobs during construction. Now in operation, the plant provides 55 full-time jobs in Imperial County. Today the plant is selling all of its energy, capacity and environmental attributes to Salt River Project under a 30-year power purchase agreement.

via Cleantechnica
Photo Credit: EnergySource